After receiving approvals from their respective boards of directors and the proper regulatory authorities, Zodiac Pool Systems and Fluidra have officially merged.
In November, the Vista, Calif.-based Big 3 manufacturer and the 49-year-old Spanish firm headquartered in Barcelona announced their intent to merge. With combined annual sales of approximately $1.5 billion, a staff of 5,500 and presence in 45 countries, the new corporation claims to be the largest pool-supply producer in the world. The move was said to help Zodiac move into the commercial realm while bringing Fluidra deeper into the Americas. It also brings the Zodiac operations into a publicly traded company, listed in the Madrid Stock Exchange
The new entity will retain the Spanish company’s name and headquarters. The former Zodiac’s California offices will anchor the firm’s U.S. operations.
For the merger to receive approval, the European Commission required the company to divest of one brand — Israeli robotic pool cleaner maker Aquatron. It is not yet known who will own that operation.
Officials say business will remain largely the same for customers and dealers.
For instance, the firm will retain all Zodiac branding in the U.S. This follows Fluidra’s adaptive business model, said Eloi Planes, the Spanish company’s former executive president, who has moved into the position of executive chairman of the board.
“Fluidra is a company name, it is not a product brand,” he said. “It is an umbrella of brands, and that is not going to play a role in terms the products.”
Additionally, the Spanish company held both distribution operations and manufacturing arms. However, officials have no plans to distribute in the U.S.
“One of our core values is adaptability and learning,” said Bruce Brooks, the former Zodiac CEO who assumes the same title in the merged entity. “So we really look at it market by market. We want to play American football in America, soccer in Europe, and rugby in Australia. I think there’s a lot of logic for Fluidra to be in distribution in Europe, but I don’t think theres a lot of logic for Fluidra to be in distribution in America.”
The company keeps its previous loyalty programs with buying groups and dealers.
The original Fluidra brings with it two facilities in the U.S. Its Aqua Products robotic cleaner operation in New Jersey will remain in place, as will the Fluidra U.S.A. facility in Jacksonville, Fla., which produces commercial filtration systems. The entry-level cleaners will serve as an effective complement for the higher-end models Zodiac brings to the table, Brooks said. Additionally, products sold through the Jacksonville operation helps bring the former Zodiac into the commercial market.
“Many builders have asked us to get into the commercial space for years,” Brooks said. “Now we’ve got a head start with the business out of Jacksonville.”
The move also doubles the company’s research and development capacity, said Planes and Brooks. For the time being, Fluidra plans to focus these resources primarily on technology.
“In terms of new products and developments, it’s based on improving the experience of the end user around the pool,” Planes said. “The Internet of Things, or connectivity, has a big role to play in building a better experience.”